5 Industries That Need a Customer Experience Overhaul and How They Can Do It

Optimizing the customer experience is one of the hidden keys of long-term growth.

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By Kimberly Zhang

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What is your business to your customers? Is it your mission statement? Your product line? Your team? Despite what you may think, there is only one right answer here: it's your customer experience.

CX is the only way that your clients can perceive your company, and that can have huge consequences for your bottom line. According to experience management platform Experience.com, companies that are considered CX leaders saw a 183% return rate on their customer care efforts. That's nearly three times that of CX laggards.

Related: Improving the Customer Experience Can Increase Your Bottom Line With This Training

These also-rans aren't always individual businesses either—entire industries are starting to fall critically behind on CX. Even the worst offenders, though, have the tools at their disposal to improve things. Here's how they can:

1. Insurance

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone: when was the last time filing a claim was simple and easy for you? The problem here is a systemic one. According to a survey conducted by IBM, 60% of insurance execs report that their company comes up short on CX strategy. If the insurance industry wants to evolve with the times, it'll need to invest in a serious makeover.

First and foremost will be expediting the claims-filing process. People want and expect their insurance to be on their side when disaster strikes. Nothing feels like more of a betrayal than jumping through hoops just to get the money you need (and deserve). Moreover, insurance CX will need to digitize more quickly than it has in the past, eschewing repeated verification phone calls for digital submission processes.

2. Telecommunications

Another unsurprising addition to this list is telecom. It took just a few years for internet access to go from a luxury service to an absolute necessity—and the pandemic only strengthened this transition. It's no secret that telecommunications companies have been slow to respond to this fact, lagging behind in service and customer satisfaction.

Related: Four Ways To Boost Customer Experience (And Thus Hold Onto Your Clients)

The fix here is simple: telecom providers need to listen to their customers. Data recently published by Kantar showed that "ease of getting in touch" was the third most powerful factor in determining telecom brand preference among consumers globally, just behind network coverage and strength. That means no more labyrinthine phone calls with automated receivers and no more web-based service portals to nowhere. Whichever provider takes the lead with customer access will see its competitors playing catch-up for years to come.

3. Retail

This one may come as a surprise. Retailers are nothing without smooth customer interactions, so how are they lagging behind? The truth is that retail CX was good for what it was until Covid-19 struck. Now retail stores are coming to grips with the fact that their online CX—often the primary or even sole source of revenue these days—is severely lacking.

Of course, this won't last forever. Retail outfits will slowly update their digital CX to where it needs to be, and eventually customers will start frequenting storefronts again. Those customers' expectations, though, may be vastly different from the way they were before. A recent study from Retail Customer Experience found that 48% of retail shoppers would be more willing to buy in person from stores that offer contactless payment methods.

4. Healthcare

The majority of patients feel dissatisfied with the healthcare customer experience according to a study conducted by PwC. This isn't all that surprising, but the nature of the industry itself raises the stakes here significantly. Sloppy CX in healthcare could lead to disengaged patients, lost information, or suboptimal outcomes. All of these are factors that ultimately end up deciding the status of someone's health, making the importance of good CX here indisputable.

Related: Here's How (And Why) You Should Get Your Enterprise's Customer Experience Ready For The Post COVID-19 World

Here, healthcare needs to look to other industries for guidance. What methods minimize wait times, maximize engagement, and ensure clarity the most? The answer to these questions need to form the foundation of the next generation of healthcare CX—for the sake of both the patients and the industry at large.

5. Hospitality

There's no question the hospitality industry took a beating in 2020. STR, a provider of strategic data to the hotel industry, reports that nationwide room occupancy rates reached record lows, falling by a third year over year from 2019. Rising vaccination rates and collective cabin fever seem likely to drive a robust recovery, but to capitalize on America's pent-up urge to travel, the hospitality industry will have to up its CX game.

One factor that could make this difficult is the sheer number of touchpoints a hotel brand needs to optimize over the entire customer journey. When using a slew of disjointed solutions to handle everything from booking to concierge services to checkout, a hotelier will find it nearly impossible to ensure guests are having a consistently strong experience across all of those touchpoints. As the hospitality industry increasingly looks to tech solutions to manage their CX improvement efforts, consolidated platforms will be key to delivering the seamless experience guests expect.

The sooner that industries can adapt to changing customer needs, the better. Even though these five industries may be in particular need of an update, no one gets an A+ on their report card as of now. There's always room for improvement, and it starts at the company level.

Kimberly Zhang

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Chief Editor of Under30CEO

Kimberly Zhang, president and editor in chief of Under30CEO, has a passion for educating the next generation of leaders.

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